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Mounting a tube skinned small animal

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by George, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I often hear comments on decisions to dorsal cut or ventral cut small game for mounting. My particular choice is: "None of the Above" I hate sewing as much as I hate a seam showing so to reduce that, I figured I'd eliminate as much as possible. Hopefully, in the next few pictures of a gray squirrel, you'll be able to see how that's done.

    Because suppliers don't make the form like you need it, the first thing to do is to alter it to fit your needs. Don't be afraid to whack it apart. Just as long as you keep the anatomy intact, you can do anything you want with it. Here, I'm marking where joints would be on a live animal and cutting the form to alter the legs. That means undercutting the form so that anatomical accuracy can be maintained.The undercut will leave a small gap that will be filled with foam.
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Now that the back legs have been altered to fit the log, you'll need to cut the front legs free. The manikin is marked along the joints again and both front legs are removed.

    The squirrel is cut from the toes on one foot, across the anus, to the toes of the other foot. Carefully opening the incision, you can cut the anus free and skin the tail out. Once this is done, just peel the skin down the squirrel. Care must be taken in removing the feet and toes. The dewclaw pad on the front feet MUST be cut off as you skin or you'll tear the hide. When you get to the head, find the ear butts and cut them free from against the skull. If you don't, you can have a huge hole to sew up inside that ear and it will never look as good as it might have.

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    With small game, I elect to DP them OR, as in this case, soak them in denatured alcohol. I chose it because of the time I was going to need in pulling this tutorial off. Denatured alcohol will lock the hide and hair in quickly. You choose the method you prefer.

    Here the hide has been treated. (Note: I cut off the top and bottom jaws with the teeth still in the bones. This will require them carefully being flushed under and around. To accommodate these teeth, I cut away the nose and Dremeled out where the bottom jaw and the top jaw piece would need to set inside the manikin). I coated the tail heavily with hide paste. This is essential in getting it to slip on quickly and easiily. Don't stretch it out. Measure the length of the real tail bone using a fine wire if you have to, but stretching it out will make it look moth-eaten when mounted.

    Next, the front toes and feet are clayed and the front legs are installed. Be SURE you don't mix them up. I put a bit of paste on the forearm and leg only just to help the skin slide on.

    Next, I mix epoxy paste for attaching the legs permanently. I use Epo-Grip #30 simply because it does not run or drip. I place a small dollop about the size of a marble inside the "V" on the form so that I don't smear it alll over the hair while I work. (Note: I had installed the eyes earlier using Apoxie putty as I wasn't planning on tucking the eyelids. This keeps me from messing up clay work during this next step.) I shove the head of the manikin up inside the skin and push it through Once I have it inside, I use a small brush and put a bit of hide paste up inside the tubed squirrel so I can taxi the skin easier.
  4. TD

    TD My GGG Grandfather John "Tanner John" King b 1820

    Nice Tutorial George!!!
  5. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Moving the legs under the skin, I taxi them until the "V" joints lock together. I align them insuring that they're seated all the way down to get the epoxy on both surfaces. Once I can feel the form joint smooth out, I use two 3 inch insect pins to lock each leg in place. These pins will stay in place until the mount dries. Then I can cut the heads off and tamp them down into the form.

    Once the legs are secrure, I pull the artificial tail (I use John David Ellzey's gray squirrel tails) into the precut hole in the form. The clay will squish out and I can shape it to eliminate the seam where it joins. The tail wire is bent back into the form to lock it down.

    Now the sewing begins. I start on the "hard" leg first. Usually one is bent radically, and this bend can make it a bit "testy" to get the hide pulled up into those slots. There's a lot to be said about saving the best for last. Insure that your hide DOES pull up around those bends. I use 14# test Fireline Neutral color in single strand and it hides extremely well. When you get to the anus, I find it easier to stop and tie it off so that you can be reasonably assured that the hide will be centered. If there are any physical anomolies (such as penis and testicles) this is a good time to work those. I formed them out of regular potters clay. For the toes, I roll out spaghetti sized rolls of Critter Clay and put them in the freezer. When I go to mount the feet, I simply insert the frozen roll up into the toe all the way to the claw and snap it off. "You won't have to worry about injecting anything using this method.

    I place the squirrel on the log and I use a couple large pins to hold the body stable during the next steps. I pin each toe individually, insuring that the claw is down ON the log. Squirrels don't surf or snowboard so their claws are what hold them to a tree. This takes a bit of time, but you should be charging for that time anyway. Then I bend the tail in the pose I want. If you didn't overstretch the skin, your tail will be full and fluffy. I back brush it and get each individual hair separate if possible. Then I take the cheapest "Heavy Hold" hairspray I can find and lightly mist if from about 2 feet away. This will prevent you from glopping the hair together. Let it dry 10-15 minutes and give it a second mist coat. Repeat this 2 or 3 more times. This locks the hair in place and when the skin finally dries, the squirrel's tail won't look like a wet rats, but will be fluffy and full.
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Here comes the best part. If you fill that maw with clay you can push the nose/top jaw and bottom jaw into it. Tuck the lips behind the teeth. Any excess clay will have oozed out. This clay is necessary for forming the bridge of the nose and filling up the face around the mouth. Install the bottom teeth with the top teeth over them and press down. This pulls the nose down along with it and you can work the clay under the nose cartilage so you won't have any shrinkage there. (Note: I didn't cover the work I'd done on the ears. I split them all the way and used Apoxie to form the ear cartilage liner. The ears were complete before I shoved the form into the skin tube. A dollop of clay put into the ear canal opening on the form allowed me to press those ears down and form earbutts.) I adjust the eyelids over the hardened Apoxie and keep after them for a few days until the skin dries.

    The mount is hung on the wall to dry. It MUST be watched closely because the denatured alcohol is harsh on the skin and it can dry akilt if not monitored until dry.

    A SPECIAL THANKS TO GLEN CONLEY. I had all the pictures but the files were too large and wouldn't load properly. I zip filed them to him and he took each photo and downsized them so that people with dial up could see them without burning their hard drives up. Thank you Glen.
  7. LionHeart

    LionHeart New Member

    WoW, thanks a lot George, this is good stuff ;) .

  8. TD

    TD My GGG Grandfather John "Tanner John" King b 1820

    I just want to start by stating that this is a VERY OUTSTANDING tutorial George(thumbs up) but I believe it would be more practical to go with a belly incision on this pose. 1.The incision is hidden against the driftwood and 2. If the form is a little larger in the girth it would not need to be altered...............The tube cut in my opinion would be better used on a sitting squirrel.I just mounted a fox squirrel climbing and the girth was a little larger so it worked out great.I removed legs on one side and reattached them when I mounted him.Nice job George!!! The squirrel looks nice!!!
  9. ChipD.

    ChipD. New Member

    George, When I grow up I want to be just like you. ;D ;). That was a great tutorial.
  10. bill@hogheaven

    [email protected] New Member

    George...you have a stalker.
  11. TD

    TD My GGG Grandfather John "Tanner John" King b 1820

    What?He's a stalker because he wants to be like George? LOL.............
  12. Great Post George! Post like this is what makes this site so sucessful. Geat Job !
    Thanks again !!
  13. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Tom, you're correct, but my first consideration on all small game is the tube cut. If impractical, I go on to something else. The ventral cut would require that I either split those front legs or cut them off the form anyway, so the tube decision stood that test FOR ME. As far as the form having a larger girth, I don't allow that to happen. John David has a wonderful selection of all shapes and sizes and he has one that will fit the squirrel I'm working on. To me, it's like the back side of a fish being finished. Sure, no one will see and but I know it's there and it bugs me. I simply hate a gap in a seam and just don't have them. I've seen hides stapled and superglued underneath and I just don't do that either. In a few years when he gets tired of cleaning the dust out of the fur and tail and he grabs it and pulls it off the log, I know that his first words won't be, "Why that cheap SOB didn't even bother to sew the hide together underneath."
  14. TD

    TD My GGG Grandfather John "Tanner John" King b 1820

    Nothing wrong with that.I'm probably one of the few taxidermist in my area that finishes both sides of the heads and tails on my fish that hang against the wall but I am guilty of a seam that doesn't fit perfect on the opposite size at times.I know that tutorial will help many.......GJ..............
  15. redwolf

    redwolf Active Member

    thanks george.
  16. looking good Gorge, What I want to see is a lying down bobcat done that way..... :p I still like dorsal, sorry. Josh
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Josh, I do DEER that way, so a bobcat would be a walk in the park.
  18. EJ

    EJ Proud Member of: Unaffiliated, Free Agent

    Dang George!...That thing was still RAW!...Heck if nothing else you could of ran a little heat across it? ;D
  19. on doing th mouth the way you did it can you get some pics on doing the mouth
  20. grantgav

    grantgav New Member

    Thanks George for sharing, great tutorial and very nice looking mount.
    Cheers from downunder.